Alice Starmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting - Book

Here it is - the grandpappy of Fair Isle knitting books by the grand dame (she should be given an OBE for this work!) of Fair Isle knitting herself: Alice Starmore. I have wanted a copy of this book for the longest time. I have a colour copy of it but somehow, it just wasn't the same as holding the real thing in my hand (you all know how that is...). So, I watched the ebay auctions and finally broke down and bid high enough to win a mint copy (although it came close to having to mortgage the house, we managed to pay for it by eating Maggi noodles (Top Ramen to the US members) for a month!) No regrets here; what a great book!

This is sort of an everything-you-ever-need-to-know book about Fair Isle knitting. Alice is definitely an expert in this field and she provides a wonderful overview of the subject. There is the perfunctory history, complete with maps and colour photos (my favourite is of HRH The Prince of Wales posing in his Fair Isle jumper and holding his wee dog). Then there is a section on pattern which describes what a true Fair Isle design is and gives lots of charts. A section on colour follows. Then, comes the best part: technique. Alice explains various methods of knitting FI (and includes a photo of using the knitting belt which *of course* I've included here!). There is a description of steeking and photos showing cutting the knitting. After this section there are 14 of Alice's own designs, a couple of which interest me. Then, once again, another fantastic section, this time on how to create your own garment. Even if a knitter wasn't too interested in FI, the sections on designing one's own jumper, cardi or slipover is worth the price of the book.

It's easy to see why this book remains so popular and the prices on ebay have been high (up to US$150) for a long time. I notice that the auctions have been ending for less at times for the softcover editions. What I can't understand is why this book has not been reprinted.

Anyone who is a Fair Isle enthusiast must have this book! I think the only other book on the subject that comes close is the book by Ann Feitelson.

Hardcover; 1988; 200 pages; out of print.

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Bill's picture

I shouldn't have read your wonderful review...I bought one!

kiwiknitter's picture

Now I'll be waiting to hear that you love the book!

Never trust a man who, when left alone in a room with a tea cozy, doesn't try it on.  ~Billy Connolly

Kerry's picture

Jesse, they are great books, such lust objects!

Bill's picture

I'm in the Starmore group on the new Ravelry site...and there's lots of discussion about the books...substitute yarns...and the difficult Alice Starmore...'d think with the sheer number of fans she has she would be better at marketing...but she seems to have become very reclusive...

Celowin's picture

I'm definitely going to have to pick this book up eventually. Since I'm not willing to refinance my house or eat noodles for a month, I guess I'll have to budget and save for it. Tough to do when there are so many other neat knitting books I still need to get...